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MORNING BRIEF

Government watchdog sounds alarm on prison torture, lira drops again, Parliament to meet Tuesday: Everything you need to know to start your Friday

Here's what happened yesterday, and what to expect today, Friday, May 27, and this weekend 

Government watchdog sounds alarm on prison torture, lira drops again, Parliament to meet Tuesday: Everything you need to know to start your Friday

Detainees inside Roumieh prison. (Credit: Archive photo DR)

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A damning report by the government’s anti-torture watchdog committee found that judicial authorities “fail to investigate serious torture allegations made by victims.” The report by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture under the National Human Rights Commission described Roumieh prison, the country’s main prison facility, as “far from acceptable” due to overcrowding, inadequate medical care and poor hygiene. The committee voiced particular outrage over conditions at the detention center underneath the President Elias Hrawi Bridge, under the administration of the Justice Palace. The report recommended that “allegations of torture [be] investigated by a civil investigative judge not by security agencies, and to have the claims of torture investigated through a fair trial in a competent, civil, and not military, court,” noting that “an investigation by security agencies into actions committed by their own officers is neither independent nor impartial.”

The lira slid to its lowest level ever this week, trading at LL36,000 to the US dollar on the parallel market. Since the elections on May 15, the lira has lost 20 percent of its value. Last week the Banque du Liban extended circular 161 through the end of July, which facilitates injecting dollars into the market, but the parallel market rate continues to diverge from the central bank’s Sayrafa rate, reaching its widest ever gulf on Thursday.

The newly elected parliament will convene on Tuesday for the first time. First on the agenda is the election of a new speaker and deputy speaker. Current Speaker Nabih Berri has held the position uninterrupted since 1992, but some newly elected MPs last week said they would not vote for him to receive another term. The current deputy speaker, Elie Ferzli, lost his parliamentary seat in the May 15 elections, meaning the competition for the deputy speaker role is wide open. Lebanon’s National Pact, which allocated the presidency, premiership and speakership of Parliament to Maronites, Sunnis, and Shiites respectively, similarly allocated the deputy speakership of Parliament to Orthodox Christians. This, however, is only a tradition, and is not required by law.

In case you missed it, here's our must-read story from yesterday: "New telecom tariffs, explained"



Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up. A damning report by the government’s anti-torture watchdog committee found that judicial authorities “fail to investigate serious torture allegations made by victims.” The report by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture under the National Human Rights Commission described Roumieh prison, the country’s main prison...